Abracadabra, what a magical phrase – not only in the way it is used by magicians to conjure their tricks but also in the many permutations of meaning attributed to it.

Fantasia The Sorcerer?s ApprenticeThe best-known use of this invocation of late would be the “Avada Kedavra” or “Killing Curse” in J.K. Rowling’s popular magical fantasy Harry Potter book and movie series. And boy does Rowling give this bit of hocus pocus a powerful bite. “Harry Potter, the boy who lived… come to die. Avada Kedavra!,” screams Lord Voldermort in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the first book in which the curse is properly introduced.

“Abracadabra belongs to Aramaic, a Semitic language that shares many of the same grammar rules as Hebrew,” says Cohen in “Win the Crowd.” “’Abra’ is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘avra,’ meaning, ‘I will create.’ While ‘cadabra’ is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘kedoobar,’ meaning ‘as was spoken.’ Together the phrase means, ‘I will create as has been spoken,’ a fitting thing for a magician to say before pulling a rabbit out of his hat.”


Abrakadabra or more correctly ABRAHADABRA is a word to be studied in Equinox I, V., “The Temple of Solomon the King”. It represents the Great Work complete, and it is therefore an archetype of all lesser magical operations. It is in a way too perfect to be applied in advance to any of them. But an example of such an operation may be studied in Equinox I, VII, “The Temple of Solomon the King”, where an invocation of Horus on this formula is given in full. Note the reverberation of the ideas one against another. The formula of Horus has not yet been so fully worked out in details as to justify a treatise upon its exoteric theory and practice; but one may say that it is, to the formula of Osiris, what the turbine is to the reciprocating engine. There are many other sacred words which enshrine formulae of great efficacity in particular operations.

The formula of Thelema may be summarized thus: Theta “Babalon and the Beast conjoined” — epsilon unto Nuith (CCXX, I, 51) — lambda The Work accomplished in Justice — eta The Holy Graal — mu The Water therein — alpha The Babe in the Egg (Harpocrates on the Lotus.)

That of “Agape” is as follows:  Dionysus (Capital Alpha) — The Virgin Earth gamma — The Babe in the Egg (small alpha — the image of the Father) — The Massacre of the Innocents, pi (winepress) — The Draught of Ecstasy, eta.

It should also be remarked that every grade has its peculiar magical formula. Thus, the formula of Abrahadabra concerns us, as men, principally because each of us represents the pentagram or microcosm; and our equilibration must therefore be with the hexagram or macrocosm. In other words, 5 Degree = 6Square is the formula of the Solar operation; but then 6 Degree = 5Square is the formula of the Martial operation, and this reversal of the figures implies a very different Work. In the former instance the problem was to dissolve the microcosm in the macrocosm; but this other problem is to separate a particular force from the macrocosm, just as a savage might hew out a flint axe from the deposits in a chalk cliff. Similarly, an operation of Jupiter will be of the nature of the equilibration of him with Venus. Its graphic formula will be 7 Degree = 4Square, and there will be a word in which the character of this operation is described, just as Abrahadabra describes the Operation of the Great Work.

Examples of the former kind are Tetragrammaton, I.A.O., and Abrahadabra.

An example of the latter kind is the great word StiBeTTChePhMeFSHiSS, which is a line drawn on the Tree of Life (Coptic attributions) in a certain manner.<>

With all such words it is of the utmost importance that they should never be spoken until the supreme moment, and even then they should burst from the magician almost despite himself — so great should be his reluctance <> to utter them. In fact, they should be the utterance of the God in him at the first onset of the divine possession. So uttered, they cannot fail of effect, for they have become the effect.

Every wise magician will have constructed (according to the principles of the Holy Qabalah) many such words, and he should have quintessentialised them all in one Word, which last Word, once he has formed it, he should never utter consciously even in thought, until perhaps with it he gives up the ghost. Such a Word should in fact be so potent that man cannot hear it and live.

Such a word was indeed the lost Tetragrammaton>. It is said that at the utterance of this name the Universe crashes into dissolution. Let the Magician earnestly seek this Lost Word, for its pronunciation is synonymous with the accomplishment of the Great Work.<>

The most generally useful and adaptable battery is composed of 11 strokes. The principal reasons for this are as follows: “Firstly”, 11 is the number of Magick in itself. It is therefore suitable to all types of operation. “Secondly”, it is the sacred number par excellence of the new Aeon. As it is written in the Book of the Law: “…11, as all their numbers who are of us.” “Thirdly”, it is the number of the letters of the word ABRAHADABRA, which is the word of the Aeon. The structure of this word is such that it expresses the great Work, in every one of its aspects. “Lastly”, it is possible thereby to express all possible spheres of operation, whatever their nature. This is effected by making an equation between the number of the Sephira and the difference between that number and 11. For example, 2 Degree=9Square is the formula of the grade of initiation corresponding to Yesod. Yesod represents the instability of air, the sterility of the moon; but these qualities are balanced in it by the stability implied in its position as the Foundation, and by its function of generation. This complex is further equilibrated by identifying it with the number 2 of Chokmah, which possesses the airy quality, being the Word, and the lunar quality, being the reflection of the sun of Kether as Yesod is the sun of Tiphareth. It is the wisdom which is the foundation by being creation. This entire cycle of ideas is expressed in the double formula 2 Degree = 9Square, 9 Degree = 2Square; and any of these ideas may be selected and articulated by a suitable battery.

We may conclude with a single illustration of how the above principles may be put into practice. Let us suppose that the Magician contemplates an operation for the purpose of helping his mind to resist the tendency to wander. This will be a work of Yesod. But he must emphasize the stability of that Sephira as against the Airy quality which it possesses. His first action will be to put the 9 under the protection of the 2; the battery at this point will be 1-9-1. But this 9 as it stands is suggestive of the changefulness of the moon. It may occur to him to divide this into 4 and 5, 4 being the number of fixity, law, and authoritative power; and 5 that of courage, energy, and triumph of the spirit {86} over the elements. He will reflect, moreover, that 4 is symbolic of the stability of matter, while 5 expresses the same idea with regard to motion. At this stage the battery will appear as 1-2-5-2-1. After due consideration he will probably conclude that to split up the central 5 would tend to destroy the simplicity of his formula, and decide to use it as it stands. The possible alternative would be to make a single knock the centre of his battery as if he appealed to the ultimate immutability of Kether, invoking that unity by placing a fourfold knock on either side of it. In this case, his battery would be 1-4-1-4-1. He will naturally have been careful to preserve the balance of each part of the battery against the corresponding part. This would be particularly necessary in an operation such as we have chosen for our example.

Magick In Theory And Practice – Aleister Crowley


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